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Nurses to volunteer at Tokyo Olympic soccer sites fall to 30% of original number

Kashima Stadium, which is scheduled to serve as a soccer venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, is seen in this file photo. (Mainichi)

MITO -- The number of nurses to work on a voluntary basis at Kashima Stadium in Ibaraki Prefecture, a soccer venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, and training grounds has dropped to 30% of that originally planned, it was revealed in an inquiry to the Ibaraki Nursing Association.

    A strained health care system amid the spread of the coronavirus seems to be one factor behind the decrease in volunteer nurses, uncovering the reality that medical workers in the field cannot manage to offer assistance for the Olympics.

    According to the Ibaraki Nursing Association, its members will be responsible for providing first-aid to athletes among other tasks at venues where matches are held, as well as training grounds. The nurses will not receive monetary compensation for any of the work, and will participate as volunteers.

    The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games made a request to the Ibaraki association via the Japanese Nursing Association to issue a notice to recruit medical staff. When the prefecture's nursing association called for volunteers in 2018, 41 nurses had agreed to cooperate.

    However, on April 20 this year, the Japanese Nursing Association requested that the Ibaraki association recommend at least 10 more nurses, public health nurses, and other professionals. When the Ibaraki group asked the games organizing committee directly for the reason, it apparently received the explanation that the number of nurses who had agreed to cooperate dropped to 13. It appears that a majority of nurses withdrew from the commitment.

    The Ibaraki Nursing Association did not comply with the request for additional recommendations, as the prefectural government has asked for its cooperation for COVID-19 vaccinations, and from the fear that it will increase the burden on nursing personnel amid the spread of the coronavirus.

    Regarding the volunteer nurses' withdrawal, the Ibaraki Nursing Association explained that "it may be because health care personnel need to be secured for administering vaccines." The organizing committee said it would refrain from responding to an inquiry as it was "in the midst of arrangements." It commented, "We will consult with concerned parties while considering the influences on community health care."

    (Japanese original by Toru Morinaga, Mito Bureau)

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